Long jail sentences upheld in Vietnam’s trafficking case of 20 newborns

By Phan Thuong, Thanh Nien News

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Tuong Dinh Thuong and Ngo Thi Lan (R) at an appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City April 21, 2015 for selling newborns. Photo credit: VnExpress Tuong Dinh Thuong and Ngo Thi Lan (R) at an appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City April 21, 2015 for selling newborns. Photo credit: VnExpress

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An appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday upheld the jail sentences of up to 16 years for members of a child trafficking ring busted last year.
The court dismissed the appeal of the convicted traffickers, who claimed that they only tried to help people who needed to give up their newborns and others who could not have children within Vietnam.
The panel of judges said their acts caused miseries to the children and they must be punished strictly.
Ngo Thi Lan, 45, a leader of the ring, will continue serving a 16-year prison sentence and Tuong Dinh Thuong, the other leader, 14 years. 
Three other members who received six to 12 years in jail at the first trial late last year did not file an appeal.
According to the indictment, Thuong and Lan started the operation in October 2013 and had sold 20 babies to infertile couples before they were caught in February last year.
The gang waited at hospitals for new mothers who were desperate for money or who had unexpected pregnancy and asked to buy their newborns.
Thuong established a website and distributed leaflets with phone numbers in front of hospitals, offering to sell sperm. He would then later tell interested customers what his business was really about.
During the investigation, Thuong said the group had sold 20 newborns for VND20-35 million (US$930-1,623) each, several times more than their buying prices, and each member had a cut of VND2-7 million per case. 
Investigators could only track down three babies and have sent them to orphanages in Vietnam. 

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